Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Disturbing Questions Remain In Bus Stop Rape Case

Wanted for Sexual Assault,
24th District Rogers Park
Chicago Police Dept handout
May 28, 2013 - Police are still looking for a suspect in connection with the alleged rape of a 22-year old woman on May 2. The attack is said to have happened at 2:00 p.m., in  broad daylight. The victim, a Loyola University graduate, told police that she was grabbed  by the neck at a bus stop at the busy intersection of N. Clark and W. Devon. She was dragged into an alley, she said, where the man raped her and stole a credit card. There are, however, some disturbing questions about this story that need to be addressed.

Update, June 6: The name of the alleged rape victim, Alexandria Clarke, was made public after we first published this post on May 28. None of our questions have been addressed.

DNA Info reports that the rape victim's mother is now offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to the conviction of the rapist. The mother, Renee Touchton, "said her daughter is prepared to tell her story of being taken from outside the Deluxe Diner at Clark Street and Devon Avenue at an awareness event from noon to 6 p.m. Sunday at Schreiber Park at 1552 W. Schreiber Ave." (Update: The reward was increased to $10,000 on June 6.)

The suspect is described by police as black, 35-40 years old, 5 feet 8 inches tall and about 300 pounds. Anyone with information is being urged to contact detectives at 312-744-8261.

Renee Touchton, mother of rape victim
Photo Credit: DNAinfo/Benjamin Woodard
A report from DNA Info on May 10 said that the assailant "forced the woman to walk south on Clark Street, past a corner cellphone store, Renee said. Before they turned into the alley in the 1500 block of West Highland Avenue, her daughter had tried to secretly call police from her cellphone."

The same DNA Info report noted that Renee Touchton said that her daughter actually made a 911 call, "but the man noticed and took the phone from her." Touchton also said that the man forcing her daughter away from the bus stop "could look like a couple walking down the street," and that "He took her telephone, he took her credit cards, he took her cash — thank God he left her bus pass." At the time of the attack, said DNA Info, "the suspect was wearing a white striped polo shirt and blue jeans."

Much of that sounds very strange. That intersection is indeed very busy. I know it well. I must wonder why the victim did not scream for help or struggle to break away from him.

Also bothersome is the timeline. The victim says she was forced away from the bus stop at 2:00, then raped in an alley. But a surveillance video supposedly shows the suspect at 2:08 - after the alleged attack. It seems incredible that within eight minutes he was able to force the woman into an alley, rape her, rifle through her purse to take her cash and credit cards but leave the bus pass, and then calmly walk back -- possibly even changing his shirt, which looks pink or red, not white, in the video.

Another bothersome item: Renee Touchton was interviewed by Fox 32 Chicago on June 13, 2012 after a doctor working at Northwestern Memorial medical center the Gold Coast was attacked as he walked home by a group of 15 to 20 teens who hit him in the head. "Respiratory therapist Renee Touchton generally feels safe, reported Fox 32, "but now she says she will be keeping her eyes open. I'm not going outside alone and just being more aware of my surroundings."

It might be just coincidence that Renee Touchton was interviewed last year about a violent attack on a coworker. It might be mere coincidence, too, that today she is seeking media attention for an alleged violent attack on her daughter, who she described as "very, very quiet — very, very private."  And yet...

In the May 10 DNA Info report, Renee Touchton's photo was published without her last name. "Renee asked that her last name not be used," said DNA Info. Yet, there's her photo, with her wearing a work shirt that says "Northwestern Memorial" on it. That's a lousy way to remain anonymous. Any one of a few thousand people, including her neighbors, coworkers and patients, could figure out who her 22-year old daughter is. I figured it out just by looking at her very public Facebook page.